Mikel Arteta may have been “disappointed” with yesterday’s FA Cup defeat to Nottm Forest, but it has made one thing abundantly clear. Arteta may have assembled a great young team from his new arrivals and our academy graduates, but the fact is that our backup players are simply not good enough to cover for injuries and suspensions (and AFCON and Covid!)
Since our disastrous first three games, Arteta has hardly made any changes to his first XI except for when they were forced upon him, even playing most of our first team in “easy” League Cup fixtures.
But yesterday, other than swapping Leno for Ramsdale, Arteta had to make 5 changes from the game against Man City (well he could have started with Lacazette instead of Nketiah- I wonder if he regrets that now?) but it was painfully obvious that the dynamics of his team was fundamentally weakened incredibly.
But the Boss has been able to keep that continuity going in our excellent run of form because we had no European games to try out our reserves very often, but the obvious flipside to that benefit is that the likes of Soares, Holding, Nketiah and Lokonga (and to a lesser extent Tavares), have not been able to build up their match fitness to a high enough level to easily slot into Arteta’s tactical setup.
This was clear yesterday as were lacking in cohesion with just a few regular absentees, and it is now obvious that there will be much more investment needed if we are going to really challenge for any top trophies next season, but we must be guaranteed European football first so we can keep everyone match fit and happy as well.
Arsenal fans now have very little to look forward to for the rest of the season. Two League Cup semi-finals against Liverpool could give us a slim hope of our one remaining trophy, but on yesterday’s performance could we even hope to come through unscathed? We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed on that one that Klopp decides to play his youth team, or we are going out…
The optimists among us may say that one big benefit is that Arteta should be able to field his strongest team in nearly every game in the race for the Top Four (after AFCON of course), and if we lose to Tottenham next week we could be in a very precarious position, but with most of other rivals distracted by Europe (not Spurs of course) we may be able to build up our consistency again.
But, to get back to the original point, we are still far from being the finished article squad-wise, and Arteta will have some serious pleading to do to get the Kroenkes to put their hands deep into their pockets again this summer, and even this month….
The Just Arsenal Show
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